Classical conditioning is a learning process based on associating a stimulus and an involuntary response. In contrast, operant conditioning is a learning process based on associating a consequence with a voluntary behavior (Babel, 2020). Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are learning theories in psychology that can be applied in the classroom to improve learning outcomes.
A Comparison of Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning Theories
Figure A exhibits a graph comparing classical conditioning and operant conditioning learning theories. The two theories are compared based on the nature of responses, reinforcement, and the role of the learner. Accordingly, classical conditioning has passive learner, involuntary response, and reinforcement precedes the response (Babel, 2020). In contrast, operant conditioning has active learners, voluntary responses, and reinforcement follows the response.
Classical conditioning has various concepts, such as unconditioned stimulus that relates to objects or things used in propagating an automatic response (Babel, 2020). Unconditioned response refers to unlearned reactions in individuals based on reacting to the unconditioned stimulus. Neutral stimulus coins an object or a thing that does not cause a response when first used but when later used with an unconditioned stimulus triggers a reaction. Conditioned stimulus coins a neutral stimulus that triggers animals or individuals’ responses after association with an unconditioned stimulus (Basri et al., 2021). Conditioned response refers to individuals’ or animals’ learned response to the unconditioned stimulus.
Comparably, operant conditioning has multiple concepts like positive reinforcement, which refers to rewarding individuals after exhibiting the desired behaviors to encourage them to repeat such behaviors. Negative reinforcement refers to a situation where an aversive or negative stimulus is removed to encourage desired behaviors. Positive punishment refers to using bad consequences where individuals exhibit undesired behaviors to decrease the emission of undesired behaviors in the future (Basri et al., 2021). Negative punishment refers to confiscating reinforcing objects or things when individuals emit undesired behaviors to decrease the undesirable responses in the future.
Differentiation from Other Theories
Classical conditioning is different from other theories as it is based on automatically learned responses that enhance individuals’ desired behaviors (Carneiro et al., 2021). Similarly, learning occurs through direct experience in this process based on optimizing the conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus. Further, operant conditioning is different from other theories as it is based on associating individuals’ voluntary behaviors or practices with consequences. It also entails direct learning as reinforcements; rewards are used after a particular response to encourage the desired behavior in the future.
Application in a Classroom Setting
Classical conditioning can be applied in a classroom setting by integrating technology to avoid boredom among the learners and increase the learning outcomes. The teachers can create a culture of strictness to mitigate negative behaviors such as bullying that may impede effective learning (Carneiro et al., 2021). The teachers can also encourage parents’ engagement in the learning process to provide the learners with a positive learning environment. They can support the learners in school and home with appropriate resources enhancing their mental and physical composure.
Operant conditioning can be applied in a classroom setting by using punishments like extra homework, loss of recess time to discourage negative behaviors among the learners. Similarly, a teacher can use rewards or prizes like snacks, money to motivate the learners and encourage more positive behaviors in the future (Basri et al., 2021). Furthermore, a teacher can ignore learners who shout answers to posed questions and only pinpoint them to answer the questions when they raise their hands. It relates to negative reinforcement, thus increasing the desired behavior in the future.
Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are learning theories in psychology that can be applied in the classroom to improve learning outcomes. Consequently, teachers can apply operant conditioning in learning by integrating rewards and punishments to encourage positive behaviors. Moreover, they can use classical conditioning by integrating technology and asking for parents’ involvement in learning to promote a positive learning environment and learning outcomes.
Babel, P. (2020). Operant conditioning as a new mechanism of placebo effects. European Journal of Pain, 24(5), 902-908. Web.
Basri, H., Amin, S., Mirsa, U., Mukhlis, H., & Irviani, R. (2020). Learning theory of conditioning. Journal of Critical Reviews, 7(8). Web.
Carneiro, A. G., Paes, G., & Garcia-Mijares, M. (2021). Relationship between reinforcement rate and response rate in Pavlovian and operant conditioning with compound stimuli in rats. Behavioral Processes, 191, 104463. Web.